PECO's Smart Meters, Smart Future

August 6, 2009 3:34:08 PM PDT
The electric meter on your house is about to get a lot smarter!If PECO officials get their wish, customers will soon begin using technology like new "smart meters" to cut their usage and their bills.

The utility will use the technology to become more efficient, cutting costs by buying cheaper energy and improving their response time in emergencies.

"For our customers, our new smart meters can potentially save them $1.5-billion over the life of the projects and transform how all of us use energy," PECO President and CEO Denis O'Brien said.

All this technology, however, won't be cheap.

That's why PECO officials paired a show-and-tell session about their $650-million "Smart Meters/Smart Future" plan with an announcement that they're seeking $200-million in federal stimulus money to help pay for 1.6-million meters and related costs.

The technology includes things like orbs that will change color when your household is using too much energy and software programs that'll seek out the least expensive source for energy and the best times to use it.

Like wind energy, which is mainly generated at night when usage is low.

"The idea is can we bring in some hybrid electric vehicles that you can charge at that time, so while the wind is blowing you can actually utilize that inexpensive energy to recharge the car and utilize that energy most people aren't using," Mike Donohue of Accenture said.

PECO says the "Smart Meters/Smart Futures" program could save customers up to 15% on their bills, create some 4,300 "job years," and eliminate the utility's annual carbon footprint.

If PECO manages to get the money they're requesting they hope to start using this smart technology in some 600,000 homes by the year 2012, they're hoping to have everyone online in 10 years after that.